By Jack M. Angelo, managing editor
The independent artist’s grind has changed significantly in the last handful of years. Labels are far from irrelevant, and continue to make money hand over fist despite the music industry’s huge shift toward streaming and the internet at large. An artist’s visibility in the mainstream often has more to do with a label’s marketing push than the music itself. “Stumbling across” an artist often turns out to have been a curated experience. Independent artists can push themselves into the mainstream, however. If they make it, they can end up with an even more ravenous and passionate fan base.
Such is the case for 31-year-old Houston Texan Tobe Nwigwe. Tobe’s lyrical struggle of growing up in the “proverbial hood” is deepened by his evident authenticity. The first generation Nigerian has a way with words that eludes other artists in his category. His realism and energy portray the life he lived palpably. This passion from Tobe has netted him an equally passionate and surprisingly diverse fan base. The Fillmore Silver Spring nearly filled up on April 8, 2019 for Tobe’s solo concert, displaying the huge fandom Tobe possesses, even 1500 miles away from his home town.
After about an hour or so of a DJ playing various songs to get the party going, the night transitioned into Tobe’s fiery set. The Fillmore’s team and Tobe clearly worked together to create a wonderful light and sound show from a technical aspect, with each cue nailed, enhancing Tobe’s already wonderful performance. Tobe took the large stage mostly by himself, accompanied only with an excellent acoustic drummer toward the back of the stage. Tobe jumps around and encourages audience participation, which was gladly obliged.
Once Tobe Nwigwe took the stage, the party started. The Fillmore erupted with dancing and partying from beginning to end. The fans loved the set and the energy they were receiving from Tobe, and the feeling was mutual. “I thought the DMV might not show up tonight,” Tobe told the audience, who confirmed that they were in fact here, ready to party. Even when Tobe brought the tempo and the vibe down for some songs, the audience was still on board. Guests came out, including two riffing singers that the audience adored.
Tobe Nwigwe is a name to be watched. His fans already know him, and they are numerous. The talent Tobe shows on stage is excellent and well crafted. The technical aspects of the show went without a hitch, and added to the overall experience of the show. This is not a tour or an artist to be missed.